No matter if you’re a new coach or a returning coach, tryouts are your first official introduction of who you are as a coach. If you cannot put together a successful round of tryouts, cheerleaders and parents may lose confidence in your ability to run a team. Cheerleading is a major commitment, both time-wise and financially, so you do not want potential cheerleaders going to another squad because your tryouts were unorganized. The best thing you can do is be prepared down to the very last detail.

First, give yourself enough time to get everything together. Give yourself a month or two, and pick a date far enough out to get everything prepared and give people enough time to sign up. Depending on if you work at a gym or a school, you may need to get clearance from administrative staff first. Once you have any and all formalities out of the way, put in a formal request to reserve time at your location. You may want to reserve a gym for several days depending on how many cheerleaders you are adding to your team, and how many cheerleaders sign up to tryout. You can always cut back on tryout days, so overestimate–you do not want to need an extra day, and not have it!

Once you have the room booked, post tryout dates to give attendees enough time to sign up. After you post signup sheets and dates, you need to start coordinating your tryout process; make this as simple as possible. Plus, you need to ascertain what you expect out of your team! If your team is a yell squad, you do not need to include stunts at tryouts. If you are having multiple-day tryouts, you want to increase the degree of difficulty after every cut. Try and make your tryouts simple, because you will be dealing with a lot of cheerleaders and you do not want things to get unorganized. Have your tryouts planned ahead of time as much as you can to avoid scrambling or ad-libbing on the spot.

Depending on if you coach a school team, an All Star team, or a Pop Warner group, you might want to have information packets or a meeting with the parents before tryouts. Cheerleading is a major commitment, and the parents should be informed before tryouts. If you are coaching a high school team, an informational meet-and-greet might be suitable. Make pamphlets for parents including all tryout information and team expectations, like time commitments and any financial obligations if their cheerleader makes the team. If the age group of your team is younger, it is better to have a parent meeting to go over all the information in person rather than sending a packet home.

The day before tryouts, make sure you have all you scoring sheets and last-minute paperwork together. Make numbers for the cheerleaders, and have everything prepped and ready to go. Tryout day is going to be very busy, and you want everything to go as smooth as possible. If you hired judges, make sure to give them a courtesy call to remind them of the date and time of tryouts. You also want to think about how you are going to post cuts: some people favor listing cuts on a board the next day, and others like to do cuts at the end of every tryout. Whichever you prefer, just be consistent and be sure to let your cheerleading hopefuls know when and where you will be posting the information at the end of every tryout period.

Tryouts can be very stressful, but as long as you are prepared, and they will run smoothly. Be sure to introduce yourself to all the cheerleading hopefuls, and have fun! Try not to stress too much on cuts, and remember to also enjoy the experience. Enthusiasm is contagious, and if you are excited, you will end up with the best cheer team out of all potential candidates!

How else can cheer coaches prep and plan their cheerleading tryouts? What helped you to get organized? Share your story in the comments!